Steer clear of skincare myths


By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

Beauty products over the years have become increasingly specific, expensive and, frankly, excessive. The skincare industry alone generated $17 billion in 2017, comprising roughly 20 percent of the beauty/personal care industry. Although successful, this sector of the market is bogus.

If you have skin that truly requires care, you cannot benefit from this industry. Individuals with acne, psoriasis and eczema, along with other common skin issues, will only worsen their conditions by buying into this market filled with empty promises and hefty price tags.

So who is the skincare industry for anyway? People whose skin is already fine? If it’s already fine, then why are they spending their money on products claiming to make their skin extra fine?

They’re not selling products in this industry; they’re selling ideas and ideals.

Whether that $50 pretty little glass jar smooths your wrinkles, zaps your zits or evens your complexion is irrelevant to them. All that matters is you see what you “could” be when buying it: younger, fresher, more beautiful.

They want you to feel like you need their product to reach the standard of beauty they set. They want you to feel like if you don’t buy this potion, cream or wash, you aren’t beautiful. And you can’t be happy if you aren’t beautiful based on their standards, right?

The jar whispers to you, “If only you bought me, you could be a better version of yourself.”

You think it will make you feel good. You buy it. And — surprise — you remain unchanged, outside of the balance of your checking account.

The skincare industry seems to lack credibility. It makes all kinds of claims: “Zit-erasing pen!”, “Smooth out those wrinkles!”, “One minute in the shower with this soap and you’ll look like Jennifer Aniston!” Despite its promises, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence for the success of its products.

For someone with properly functioning skin, there is no serious downside to buying these products besides the expense. For someone with skin issues, however, the empty promises of the industry can lead to wild goose chases ending in further frustration and negative results.

Let’s take acne as an example. Everyone has had a breakout at some point; it’s practically a rite of passage into adulthood. For some, however, it overstays its welcome, and the skincare industry is ready to “help.”

These individuals desperate for clear skin are offered charcoal masks, cleansing lavender water and light therapy treatments, among others. Spoiler alert: None of these items will work. But you already bought them, so the industry doesn’t care.

The skincare market is built on dishonesty, on broken promises. And people are buying into it more today than ever before. It is but another facet of a society based on the glory of materialism and consumerism.

If you have skin that just does its thing, be thankful for it. Be thankful your problem is “my pores are too big” (that’s a made up problem, everyone has pores) or that it does not glow like Jennifer Aniston’s (she is most likely not human anyway).

And if you have a diagnosable problem, don’t waste your money on all this silliness; go to a dermatologist. I promise their suggestions will help much more than those of a cosmetologist at Sephora.

If we stop buying, they’ll stop lying. They won’t have a choice.

Ellen is a sophomore in LAS.

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